Friday, 13 November 2009

Dive bar remedies (day sixty five and sixty six)

A breeze blew in my face all night. I couldn't sleep, the air bed deflating slowly underneath our combined bulk. Slow pace morning we race at Mario Kart to unlock the circuits and Homer tells tales of heroes long gone from the rose fingered dawn.

This indie coffee house is helping my self image, collage of art styles and photos hodge podged onto the wall anyway they'll go, hipsters with hipster tattoos and thrift store junk clothes $10 outfit an odd angular face like a clock tower or the Guggenheim razor edged. The mocha tastes fine out of a plain white cup while we talk politics, incessant politics. Old bluesmen look down from 12 inch record covers, missing New Orleans or Chicago or Memphis, or wherever, but not Utica. Never Utica. No one misses Utica.

Father stares off middle distance, splurging out his throat with raspy phlegmballing coughs. He'll pipe in with the odd portion of advice from his considerable archive, but his interest is the cat he rescued. Let the women do the talking, it's what they're good for. We must pop by if we ever come through this way again. He only says it because he has to.

The camera charger is in another state so I'll never remember any of this. My mind's eye reached its capacity back in Memphis. New York State is nowhere. Vocal mannerisms will never convert into typed out words, too flat and repetitious and never getting anywhere in too many words, surrogate and surfeit. You know, I'm sorry y'all, you know, like, in a way... Realism is not accuracy. I write through my teeth. And I never finish off my thoughts.

A dead aim arm wins beer pong, from hours on the oche firing darts into hog hair compacted down down. Rome is a working man's town and my hands are soft and unblistered. Their fat heads are baseball capped, hair cropped short. Barrel bellies pull their T shirts, or polo shirts taut, top heavy bodies tapering down to skinny legs. They holler and whoop at the lacquered local girls, tight jeans and JC Penney going out tops, day's dirt left in the shower cubicle, to be covered by make up dirt and fake tan in the morning. The karaoke man has tucked his T shirt into his shorts and pulled his socks high, and he has no idea how to marshall the hordes, soaking abuse like a damp sponge. This is their night out, where they cut loose, and sing away the factory day, still lit up across the way, monoliths in metal visible through the frosted glass windows, industry fading out in a wheezing wheedling asbestos fed coughspluttercough. Peanuts half fill a barrel in this divebar, brick exposed walls bestriding a wooden floor with sawdust stains. The men rattle the table football, twirling poles. It's all in the footwork. Girls yowl along to the tuneless tunes, and you only listen to your friends, because that's who you're here for. It's some kind of community.

Another car passes, its rearview mirror blocked out with the pillows and the duvets and everything a college kid needs. Every parent's least favourite weekend. The University of Vermont is filling up with hormones and empty minds (morals?), loose limbed teens ready for sororities, societies and beer pong. We should have read this omen in yesterday's tea leaves (coffeegrounds). Every motel is full in Burlington, sad parents and excited sons and daughters, flush and nervous. The sky is streaked, looks like a daytime galaxy, clouds radiating outwards and outwards from a pulsing ball of yellow incandescence, blurring out in dark blue and white striations. It's still August, but it feels ominous in Vermont. Above, it seems other worldly, and the air is chilled. Kentshire rural shire farmland, wooded and verdant, fields of Friesian cows just like on the ice cream label. It might as well be the caricature it has become. Ben and Jerry sold out years ago, shipped out and died in Americana museums.

Dubstep booms its clubshaker subwoofer lowdown bass, throbbing the air, vibrating so slow you can see the rubber speaker oscillate. This is the only way to drive in the dark. With a sense of doom, as if a giant or a wolf were chasing you. It is dark here. Nowhere is lit up, and nobody advertises. Billboards are prohibited, and the signs can only hint as to where you should go. Pssst, there might be a gas station to your left. It is a hidden consumerism. I like it where I can see it.

The Thatcher Brook Inn is a hunting lodge, weatherboarded with fireplaces in every room, logs piled up in readiness for the forthcoming autumn snows - the sun shines briefly. Your skin gets thicker here, furrier hide, solidified, frozen. There is no television so what are we to do - talk... or older past times. Pinning wraiths with fountain pen nibs to thick cartridge paper (0! the romance of stationery - cedar pencil crayon / pastel / quill), conjuring sentences from withered wrists, filling pages in a journal (so rudimentary).

Albany is passed in a minute, odd looking mimicry skyscrapers bunched together, hiding Troy, where the poor people live. We ate omlettes in a diner in Rome, chrome glinting round laminate counters, overweight staff walking round with dentist's crying after them. They didn't have dentists in the 50s. The grease is antiquated, left over from a hamburger twenty years ago, or a hash brown from 1967, when hair was longer and you didn't care so much (you were never here, or there, or anywhere in particular). Waved goodbye in a Utica sidestreet, car rolling on soft tires, everything deflating.

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